Everything great in life and business is born out of great communication. 

Most organizations spend a lot time and resources working to retain and deepen relationships with key stakeholders, including employees, customers, board members, donors and policy makers.

But too often, communications strategy is fragmented across the organization, with each part of the organization working off a different chart. This fragmentation can lead to confusion in messaging, but also undermine brand value, negatively affect your market share and diminish your impact.

Communications touches everything, from sales and customer loyalty to employee morale and retention. Strategic, well-integrated communications must be responsive to the tastes, values and intelligence of the target audience, and leaders shouldn't be afraid to take calculated risks to engage and expand their audiences.
Meet the Expert

About Robin

  • 35 years experience in corporate communications, heading communications teams at Merck, United Technologies, Purdue Pharma, Yale University and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
  • Offers expertise in foundation leadership, academic public affairs, and issues management.
  • Founded True North Strategies, LLC, strategic communications consultancy to build on leadership role at Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, guiding communications strategy to advance the influence and effectiveness of non-profit organizations.


Principal • True North Strategies
2014 — Present
  • Strategic communication consultancy serving clients including the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Arnold P. Gold Foundation, TEDMED and Rabin Martin. 
Vice President - Communication • Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
2012 — 2014
  • Developed and implement comprehensive communications strategy for the nation’s largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to health.
  • Provided leadership and coaching to a staff of  35 associates in a broad range of disciplines including web development, federal policy outreach, media relations, film-making, speech-writing, issues management and internal communications.
  • Served on executive committee of the foundation, which oversees disbursements of approximately $400 million in targeted contributions annually.
  • Provided counsel to the board of trustees and program leadership on strategic communications.
Director of Strategic Communications • Yale University
2008 — 2012
  • Led one of the university’s major strategic initiatives: enhancing Yale’s reputation as a center of excellence in science, engineering and medicine and the arts through creative use of mainstream and social media. 
  • Worked closely with deans and leading faculty to create new opportunities to tell Yale’s unique narrative through videos, podcasts, feature articles and channel partnerships with leading media.
President • Hogen Communications
2006 — 2008
  • Provided strategic communications counsel, brand management, crisis management and marketing communications support to clients in four states.
  • Clients included IMS Health, Laureate Pharma, Yale Cancer Center, Portfolia, the Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now, Chandler Chicco Agency, WeissComm Partners and Treatmentonline.
Vice President, Public Affairs • Purdue Pharma L.P.
2000 — 2006
  • Led the crisis communications team that helped protect the company's pain management franchise and keep OxyContin ($2 billion-sales narcotic painkiller) on the market.
  • Responsible for all aspects of corporate communications and crisis management. Supervised 17 communications and lobbying firms; chaired issues management team. Built department from zero to 15+ colleagues.  Accountable for $14 million budget. 
  • Created Purdue’s “10 Point Plan to Reduce Prescription Drug Abuse” – in response to three Congressional hearings and calls by many public officials to ban OxyContin.
  • Conceived and supervised national public service ad campaign (TV, print and radio) on dangers of prescription drug abuse; campaign won two Telly Awards and 2005 Platinum PR Award from PR News.
  • Worked closely with Rudy Giuliani to develop and launch Rx Action Alliance, a national coalition to combat Rx drug abuse (www.rxactionalliance.org).
  • Created nation’s first communications campaign to alert teens and parents to danger of abusing Rx drugs (www.painfullyobvious.com).
  • Successfully managed litigation communications for 600+ product liability lawsuits.
Vice President - External Affairs • Fisher Scientific International Inc.
1997 — 1999
  • Directed media relations, public relations, state and federal government relations, community affairs, marketing communications and global branding for the leading manufacturer and supplier of scientific equipment, with $3 billion in revenues.
  • Developed and built a global branding strategy that visually united and cross-linked catalogs, websites and packaging, leveraging the size and scope of the company.
  • Conceived and produced corporate capabilities film, documenting the diversity and breadth of the corporation for worldwide staff and opening up cross-selling opportunities.
  • Started award-winning employee newsletter that provided a company-wide channel for internal communications.
Vice President, Communications and Public Affairs • Hybridon, Inc.
1995 — 1997
  • Established and directed media relations, investor relations, government relations, employee communications, marketing communications and special events for emerging biotech company.
  • Developed and directed a communications strategy that established corporate credibility and raised visibility and understanding of the technically sophisticated field of antisense research.
  • Handled investor and public relations for a successful IPO that grossed $53 million and a placement of $50 million in convertible bonds
Executive Director, Public Affairs • Merck & Co., Inc.
1988 — 1995
  • Directed media relations, corporate advertising, employee communications, annual report, corporate citizenship programs, publishing, crisis management and special projects for CEO, with $22 million budget and staff of 50. 
  • Helped Merck earn Fortune Magazine’s "Most Admired Corporation in America" award seven years in a row; leveraged award in advertising and collateral material.
  • Developed creative, integrated program of aggressive media relations, new corporate identity, advertising and corporate citizenship that dramatically increased company’s visibility and enhanced positive image in the U.S. and abroad.
  • Implemented a streamlined internal communications program with a monthly “magapaper” and a nationwide, electronically distributed daily newsletter that improved effectiveness and efficiency of employee communications and saved more than $1 million annually.
  •  Led successful national communications effort and grass roots campaign that positioned company favorably during the Congressional healthcare reform debate.
  • Expanded medical information franchise of The Merck Manual; published new editions in nine foreign languages and accelerated development of new Merck Manual for the Home.
President • The Merck Company Foundation
1988 — 1991
  • Hired to re-energize the philanthropic efforts of the company, including strategy development and management of corporate giving and special events.  Oversaw staff of seven and budget of $70 million.
  • Developed new strategic vision, aligning Foundation’s goals with business objectives; created value-added approach that leveraged activities into growth opportunities, resulting in 100 percent increase of philanthropic budget in three years.
  • Conceived and launched The Merck Institute for Science Education, a $20 million initiative to improve quality of elementary school science teaching; hired nationally acclaimed PhD scientist/educator to run Institute. Recognized as Best In Class by The Conference Board.
  • Championed support for the Children’s Health Project, expanding it internationally into St. Petersburg, Russia.  Project facilitated Merck’s entry into former Soviet Union.
  • Strengthened company’s reputation for strategic philanthropy, earning it national recognition as “Corporate Philanthropist of the Year” and winning prestigious Wein Prize for Social Responsibility.
Director, Corporate Contributions & Community Affairs • United Technologies Corporation
1978 — 1988
  • Provided overall direction of UTC’s $12 million corporate citizenship, community relations and contributions program.  
  • Developed an integrated, worldwide corporate branding strategy that included major arts sponsorship and positioned the company as a leader in quality, innovation and creativity.


Yale University
BA, Fine Arts, 1970


  • Lawrence A. Wien Prize for Social Responsibility, Columbia University School of Law; awarded for Merck's Corporate Social Responsibility portfolio.


  • Board member for the KIVA Leadership Council, NationSwell Council and Harbor Beach Company
  • Senior adviser to the Arnold P. Gold Foundation, Rabin Martin and the Manresa Association
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